27 short poems of santa monica california

ocean and 18th


a design student   drawing board in hand  

another half dozen students   

wait at the corner of ocean and 18th


wait for the green light and walk signal

a nexus that will not be repeated in just this way




coming from the schoolyard   the sounds

of autumn   of spring   of winter

each set of sounds unique


today it is the sound of football

and the cheering that goes with it




why crows should gather

outside my window every morning

is something i don't know


but they do   and wake me

every morning




by four o'clock the aisles of bob's market

are crowded with students

and shoppers buying after-school treats and dinner


it is a bustle of hunger and commerce

in fair trade




some eating dinner at the shack shake

some studying at the library

some at the laundromat   some at the bus stop   


if you want to be lonely    walk on the street

on an autumn evening




after work   walking the six blocks from home

to the market with empty bags

walking home afterward with full bags


this particular night

doing so without hope or anticipation




after a shooting   after the police

have done their work   after the last 

of the sirens   after the yellow tape is up


a crew comes in to scrub 

the floors and walls




beep beep beep of garbage trucks backing up   

crash of bins raised and tipped   roar

of low-geared acceleration 


winter   spring   summer   fall

alleyway in predawn




laptops or textbooks open   ear buds in place   

students   professors   screen writers

at the coffee shop working in intense silence


but for the loud-talkers celebrating





venice boardwalk   a scene and a half   

mecca for happiness   for those wanting

to shed their work-a-day selves


carnival of colors    sounds   possibilities

crazy isn't the word   or   it's the perfect word




santa monica pier   mecca for happiness

tourists throng   babel of languages

skin tones of very hue   bodies of every shape


all have one thing in mind





buskers and homeless   familiar

street-corner faces engaged in the familiar

exchange of dollars for entertainment   


dollars for

there but for the grace of god




students arrive by foot   car   bus   motorcycle   bike   skateboard   

arrive early

for eight o'clock classes   


the quiet neighborhood suddenly bustling

drowning out the crows' belligerence




a new fence being built   redwood 

plank by plank   here is the young couple's yard

an enclosure for their first born


across the street   apartments   

nearby   stores and restaurants




palm fronds brought down by the sirocco

clutter the street   a passing reminder

that all is well until it isn't   


palm fronds are quickly picked up

the illusion rejoined




when the october heat comes   which it always does   

predictably catching everyone off guard 

fans fly off the store shelves


those too late to buy a fan





someone is playing a guitar   i hear it

coming from an open window   

i think of the sound hole from which it emanates


what is a sound hole   what is a hole

how does one describe that which isn't there




so many churches   so many sins to repent

walking into the cool sanctuary

confess   offer repentance


as one would enter the forest or ocean   alone

witnessed only by the heavenly spirit




wading through breakers   finding sanctuary

within the quiet beneath the waves   

finding sanctuary within the quiet of the kelp bower


finding communion with oneself in the light of sunbeams

filtered by sea and leaves




beach sand   soft and warm   a veritable

playground by day

cold and damp and hard by night


a poor bed for the homeless

a bed nonetheless




this place is sun-baked   parched   color-faded

rarely rains   when it does   precious water runs uselessly

from pavement to sea   yet this place survives   


it seems no amount of abuse is too much

so it seems




this is a place of people living ordinary lives   

going to work   raising families   

doing no harm   tidying their corners of their world


i am one of the many   

often lost   never confident




the girl at the corner holding the drawing board

of designs must have a wonderful life

she is so pretty and confident   isn't that the way it works


when the light turns green she crosses the street

she does it well




the beaches are crowded   

the october heat

drives everyone to seek comfort in the cool ocean


yet everyone isn't at the beach

the city is still choking on itself




the flora here is colorful and succulent

surviving on dreams of rain

why is this place a mecca   what is the dream


my feet cover the same blocks day after day

becoming ever more weary




sunday at the beach on my white and yellow

striped towel   reading and sketching

around me   a thousand others   


everyone is happy

is everyone happy




this is a place of crows and gulls

songbirds live elsewhere   

thank god for shorebirds   the waders


sandpipers   plovers   curlews   

unsubtle and defiant   thank god for the shorebirds





Poetry by one trick pony The PoetBay support member heart!
Read 314 times
Written on 2017-10-13 at 21:00

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As soon as I saw "Ocean and 18th" I thought of Ocean Ave. in Santa Monica - I lived in Los Angeles for 10 years and used to go there and to Venice Beach every day (in the 1990s).I would spend hours and hours walking on the beach walk. Now I live in Miami Beach, and Ocean Drive in South Beach doesn't go much past 15th St. - so it had to be Santa Monica!

Kathy Lockhart The PoetBay support member heart!
I just didn't want it to stop. I was traveling along with you, meeting, observing these you brought us and their surrounding events and lives. I've been there and saw them but never knew them as well until now. Thank you.

Vivid and skilled. You paint with words. Each poem is a marvel to read.

Thomas DeFreitas The PoetBay support member heart!
I like the form that you've chosen, or which has chosen you, and you present the details in such a vivid, painterly way. Thank you for this sequence which I shall certainly reread!

Jamsbo Rockda The PoetBay support member heart!
You describe it all so well. I enjoyed reading it all.

Ashe The PoetBay support member heart!
I have read each and every one of these over and over again, enjoying them each time. Every time I picked a favorite, I would only find another one I liked more, so I'll just say that these are a very enjoyable collection. Ok, I enjoyed the beach, and Santa Monica Pier, and Venice, but really, I enjoyed them all, and I wonder about the Ravens too, and I am sad about the violence, and I could go on. Thanks for sharing these.